Price is money. Those were the words of Maxim Lapierre after last night's 5-1 win against Atlanta. In fact, yesterday was all about price: twenty-year-old Carey Price, handed the tiller of the good ship Canadiens, and the price of doing business when a GM wants to make a splash.
Well, Carey Price justified his GM's and his teammates' belief in him...for one night at least...with a great performance against the Thrashers. As for the other price...the one for bringing those same Thrashers' Marian Hossa to Montreal...it was too high.
Now that the frenzy of deadline day and its leadup has subsided, common sense says Bob Gainey was right. When the price for the privilege of renting Hossa for two months soared into the three-roster-players-and-a-prospect range, Gainey closed the bank. As he should have. He's got a young, mostly home-grown team with a special chemistry and a rare balance. His team leads the league with seven forty-point scorers. They sit second in league goal scoring, with no one having yet reached the thirty-goal plateau. I would rather see Maxim Lapierre and Christopher Higgins score FOR the Habs than against them. And I'd rather see Jaroslav Halak given a chance to develop for the team that drafted him, rather than padding a deal for a rental player.
I'm still disappointed in Gainey's failure to address the need for a third-line shut-down centre, which I think will hurt during the playoffs, and even in the tough western games leading up to the post-season. And I'm saddened at the loss of Cristobal Huet, as are his former teammates in Montreal. But even considering those lows, I'm happy with our little team. The Little Team That Could, even with no big stars.
They're young, they're fast, they're entertaining and they've got each other's backs. And, with any luck, the youthful goalies will provide the high-calibre netminding they need to win. I'm setting my expectations low right now. I want to see them make the playoffs in the top six in the East, which I think is reasonable, and I'd like them to win a round. After that, it's gravy for them. Maybe they'll surprise in the post-season, maybe they won't. Whatever happens, they'll have learned one more lesson in the school of experience that graduates champions. Best of all, they'll do it together.
In the meantime, Bob Gainey is sitting back with a healthy team on the ice and a healthy amount of cap space off it. He's still got his draft picks for what promises to be a deep pool this year. The team's young prospects are closer to making a difference in the NHL. There will be money to spend this summer, and the team is presenting itself as a desirable group for free agents to join for the franchise's centennial.
I think the price of a Cup is one the Habs can't afford this season. But they're getting there. And when the Hossas of the world have moved on to other teams at other costs, our team will be getting better. And when they are ready, Price will be too.
Price is money.